Testimony by Rachana Chhin

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops support HB 2266, which would repeal SB 4, passed in 2017, which was an “anti-sanctuary cities” law that required compliance with ICE detainers, preempted local law enforcement policies, and seeks to remove police chiefs who do not cooperate. We support HB 2266 to end the local enforcement of federal immigration law.

Our Catholic parishes, Catholic Charities agencies, Catholic Relief Services, and other ministries have long taken up the call of scripture in Deuteronomy: “Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (10:19). Jesus himself was taken by Mary and Joseph to Egypt to escape the persecution of Herod.

While Catholic Social Teaching respects the right of nations to control their borders, the Texas Bishops support targeted, proportional, and humane immigration laws. “Targeted” means that resources should be focused so that those who are dangerous are more easily identified and apprehended. “Proportional” means that enforcement of immigration laws should not feature unnecessary penalties or force. “Humane” mean that  in any enforcement action, the human rights and dignity of the person should be preserved and respected to the greatest extent possible.

While law enforcement agencies can and should cooperate with each other, they should not take over each other’s responsibilities or jurisdiction, blurring the line of separation between Texas and federal law enforcement. HB 2266 would allow our police to once again focus primarily on local priorities and the safety needs of their communities by preventing and addressing crimes that violate state and local laws. Furthermore, passing HB 2266 will promote a cooperative relationship between law enforcement and our local communities, which will enhance public safety and reduce crime.

As lawmakers, you have the solemn responsibility to serve the communities you represent with charity and justice. We assure you of our continued prayers and cooperation as our nation works to build a more just, humane, and fair immigration system and we will continue to work for comprehensive immigration reform on the national level.